When I picked Carsyn up yesterday afternoon, I went through our normal daily questions: How was your day? Did you get a treasure at school? Did you apologize to Mrs. Roby for not listening in music class last week? What all did you do at school today? What was your letter of the day?

Her answers were pretty normal until she started telling me about something new that they did. She said, "Mommy, we went downstairs and hid, just for pretend Mommy, in case the bad guys come to my school."

My heart all but stopped and I could hear myself saying, "Don't cry. Don't cry. Just get through this conversation." Was my three year-old really practicing emergency safety drills at school?

I was doing my best to really listen to what she had to say. I mean, normally, the parent of a three year-old doesn't have to deal with such heavy subject matter. I knew that I had to balance my concern with calmness, not seeming to be bothered or nervous by her story. I listened to her tell me how they followed her teachers downstairs somewhere to get safe. She kept telling me that it was "just pretend Mommy" and I could just picture her teachers reminding them of this over and over again so that they wouldn't be scared. Then she told me that she didn't like doing that. It was a little scary and she wanted to go back to her class. (I'm holding back tears right now just typing this.)

Carsyn and Kees At Harvest Day

To be honest with you, I can't remember what I told her. I think I said something to the fact that I was glad they practiced and that it's good to practice all types of things. I think I also told her that there's no reason to be scared, no bad guys would be coming to her school. The terrifying thing is that I don't know if that's true or not.

The truth is that bad guys do, in fact, exist. I will never forget being in Coach Leahy's class, sophomore year of high school when we went on lock-down because Heath High School is only 30 miles away and there had been a shooting at the school. I can remember kids in my high school panicking because they had family and/or friends at the school and not knowing if they were ok or not. We all watch the news... we see people, just like us going out for a relaxing night at the movies or a quick last-minute trip to the mall and they never make it home. Or the terror that recently happened in Connecticut, where parents took their children to school and kissed them goodbye, unknowingly for the last time.

I don't understand why some people do what they do. How can something think it's ok to hurt a human being, especially an innocent child? I don't think I'll ever understand that and frankly, I don't want to try. But, we can't stop living and we can't hold our children back from experiencing life, no matter how much we want to. So, with a lump in my throat, I moved on to the next question, "What was your letter of the day?"

She replied, "Ummm... it was 'M'. You know like, 'M' is for zebra! (I shook my head no.) 'M' is for horse? (I shook my head no again. We both giggled.) 'M' is for Mommy!" Then, she hugged me, I exhaled and we went on to deciding what to name her new horsey purse. Because, for a three year-old, that should be the most stressful thing she has to deal with today.

Carsyn's Class At Their Christmas Program